Before the throne in the audience room, the beautiful white-haired witch held a flower wreath in her hands as she directed a radiant smile at the black-haired man before her.
“How is it? Would you like to give it a try?” she said enticingly.
Roel felt his desires surging upon hearing her voice. He stared at the flower wreath in Artasia’s hands in a trance, but his golden eyes suddenly glowed brightly. A moment later, he regained his rationality.
“There’s no need for that. Thanks for the offer, but I’m not interested,” he replied as his heart thumped in fright over how he had nearly fallen for her ploy.
Artasia first pouted in response to the rejection before sighing deeply.
“It took me a long time to gather these flowers. Don’t you think that a crown would look good on you?”
“… Crown is indeed my Origin Attribute, but it’s not my pursuit,” replied Roel.
He rose to his feet and took a step away from Artasia’s throne. He looked into her eyes and spoke resolutely.
“Artasia, don’t try to tempt me with such stuff anymore. I’m not interested in becoming king.”
“… Haa, I should have known.”
After a moment of silence, Artasia placed the flower wreath on her own head before leaning toward Roel. She came so close to him that it almost looked like she was going to kiss him, forcing him to retreat half a step.
“This is troubling. Is it because I’ve witnessed far too many rises and falls over the course of history? Much time has passed since Sia’s departure. The rest of us have all given up, but your people still remain steadfast in your responsibilities… Oh well, I kind of expected such an outcome anyway,” she said as she slowly straightened her posture.
It looked like she had given up the idea of tempting him with the allure of power for now. Roel looked at her contemplatively.
“Artasia, just what is your true goal?”
“My goal? I’ve already told you. I hope that you can have that woman become my host…”
“That isn’t the truth, right? Or at least not the complete one,” Roel interjected.
Artasia blinked her eyes at the conclusion he had come to. She tilted her head slightly and asked in intrigue.
“What makes you say so?”
“Witches are witches because they can’t be comprehended by conventional thinking. I initially thought that your goal is to be revived in the real world, but as I thought deeper into it, I found myself wondering if it was really possible for the goal of the Witch Queen to be something that mundane.”
Roel’s words surprised Artasia. She was taken aback for a moment before the corners of her lips began creeping upward. Her eyes curled in pleasure, as if the doubts he was throwing her way amused her.
“Isn’t it too rash to come to a conclusion over mere rumors? Who says that a witch has to be scheming? It’s not good to hold onto stereotypes.”
“Stereotypes? You’re one to talk. You seem to believe that men like women who fawn on them. It’s quite obvious through your gestures, expressions, and tone.”
“How rude. Why can’t I be an adorable little witch?”
“Artasia, you have not called me by my name ever since our first introduction.”
It was yet another remark that surprised Artasia, and the smile on her lips grew even wider.
“You have been addressing me as ‘my hero’ thus far because you knew that I’ve given you a false name. You must have used some kind of means to verify it right away.”
Roel stared at Artasia with narrowed eyes as he spoke with an icy-cold tone.
“What did you use? A curse? Or some sort of spell?”
“… Wuu! Am I that horrible of a person in your mind? How could I possibly curse my hero?”
Faced with Roel’s searing glare, Artasia’s face reddened as she pouted unhappily, but her tone sounded oddly cheery.
“I only tested the name ‘Ro’ using my Introspection Spell, but it was completely ineffective.”
“Yeap! Even I don’t have the ability to see through the Crown. You’re an enigmatic entity for someone like me who always knows what others are thinking. How am I supposed to deal with someone like you?”
Artasia’s disposition was slowly changing along with her words. She was starting to reveal her true self. The adorable act she had been putting on all this while was slowly being reined in, replaced with a composed but euphoric smile.
“Thanks to my hero, I was able to experience what it’s like to be a woman. For the first time in my life, I was left wondering what I had to do in order to win a man’s goodwill, and I found myself feeling uncertain whether I could score points with you by making a certain gesture.”
“It was all an act?”
“Nope! I concede that I did have ulterior motives, but most of what you see of me is real.”
Artasia touched her chest as her madder red eyes further narrowed in delight.
“I was sincere when I said that we go well with one another. Despite my best attempts to conceal my nature, you were still able to see through a part of me.”
“This is only a part of you? Just how vile must the whole of you be?”
“Uwuu, that’s too much! Those words really wound my fragile heart.”
Artasia lowered her gaze pitifully as she pouted in indignance. Soon, a thought came to her mind and she clapped her hands.
“Ah, I ought to offer you a reward since you did manage to see through me.”
“Yeap! It’s a clue to deepen our relationship.”
Artasia began gesturing gracefully as if a teacher lecturing her students.
“My hero, are you aware that all witches have a strong fixation on something? My fixation is with the concept of ‘dilemma’.”
“Yeap. I meant it when I told you that I want that woman.”
“Don’t even think about laying your hands on my senior.”
Roel looked at Artasia with a composed gaze as he spoke with an equally composed tone. His ability to keep his emotions in check here only made him look even more frightening.
Seeing this, Artasia’s smile began warping enigmatically.
“Is that so? Well well, we’ll see about that.”
Artasia did a little curtsy, signalling the end of their discussion.
Following her actions, Roel found his consciousness slowly blurring away. It didn’t take long before he returned to deep sleep.
It was in the middle of the night when Roel woke up once more. The room was completely silent. The bed beneath him felt so comfortable that it was hard to tear himself away from it.
After several hours of rest, his physical condition was much better than before, though the same couldn’t be said about his mental condition.
Damn that Artasia! There’s really a problem with that woman!
While Roel was thinking such thoughts, he suddenly received a notification from the System.
【You have acquired a new skill!】
Select a woman to be the host of Witch Queen Artasia. Artasia’s strength will be determined by the physical constitution of the selected host.
“… That woman!” muttered Roel with a deep frown.
Unlike the spells he had received from Grandar and Peytra in the previous Witness States, Artasia’s Summoning was not an enhancement spell but a tribute spell.
There was no doubt that summoning the Witch Queen was a huge deal—it could possibly be one of the strongest spells in the world. However, the fact that Artasia’s strength was determined by the strength of the tribute meant that he couldn’t just use a random passer-by for it.
If he ever found himself in a situation where he needed the Witch Queen’s help, it was likely that he would require overwhelming power to make a comeback. If so, he would have to tribute a powerful female transcendent, or else it would be all in vain.
On top of that, the fact that this spell could only be used once pretty much meant that it was an ultimatum from Artasia.
In a sense, Artasia had handed Roel a knife, giving him the right to decide whom he wanted to stab or whether he wanted to stab anyone at all. But at the same time, she also made her will extremely clear.
She wanted Lilian. That was the ideal host for her.
But this was something Roel would never allow.
She was his only bloodline kin in the world, the second possessor of the Ascart Bloodline in the same era. The odds of something like this occurring was infinitesimal—it was practically a miracle.
And he cherished this gift from the world greatly.
Before he knew it, Lilian had already occupied an important position in his heart.
Same as how Lilian viewed everyone who tried to harm and insult him as her enemy, Roel felt the same way too. He wouldn’t tolerate any harm coming to his older sister.
Even if he were to put his feelings aside and analyze it from a rational point of view, he still couldn’t afford to use this spell on Lilian.
Was Artasia aiming to occupy Lilian’s body just so as to preserve a greater degree of her powers?
That could be part of the reason, but Roel definitely didn’t think that was all to it.
What she truly wanted was the Ascart Bloodline, and Lilian was a unique one even amongst possessors of the Ascart Bloodline.
Lilian was a true prodigy. Even without the correct Origin Attribute to pair with her bloodline, she was still able to draw out the powers of the Ascart Bloodline in her own way, paving a new path for herself.
What would happen if Artasia were to occupy such a body and revive in the real world?
That would spell the creation of an ultimate being who possessed both the powers of the Ascart Bloodline and the Witch Queen. On top of that, one shouldn’t forget that Lilian was the imperial princess of the Austine Empire, a potential successor to the throne. She had vast resources at her disposal.
With such power and influence in her grasp, the entire Sia Continent might just end up as her plaything!
Using the spell wouldn’t just hurt Lilian. It would also potentially put his family, friends, and even the whole of humankind in danger!
No matter what, I mustn’t use this spell.
Roel looked at the silver moon outside the window as he made up his mind.